Have you just snagged a great deal on some used stage lighting equipment and you can’t wait to transform your stage into a dazzling spectacle? Before you bask in the glory of your new gear, it’s essential to ensure that everything is in tip-top shape. Here is a detailed checklist of 12 things to inspect when buying used stage lighting.
Before you even unpack your new gear, don’t forget to inspect the packaging that your equipment came in. Whether it be road cases, cardboard boxes, or something else, visible damage to packaging can be a good clue that something may have happened in transit that needs to be addressed. If you do find anything concerning, thoroughly document it before you open anything. Having proper photographic and/or video evidence of potential carrier damage can be the difference between a successful or dismissed insurance claim.
Now that it’s out of the box, your first impression matters. Begin by giving the exterior of your used stage lighting equipment a thorough once-over. Check for signs of wear and tear, such as scratches, dents, or rust. These cosmetic issues may not affect functionality, but they can impact the aesthetics of your stage setup. When purchasing used equipment normal wear and tear is to be expected, but anything that feels beyond what you were expecting… probably is.
Power It Up
Time to put the equipment to the test. Plug it in and ensure that it powers up without any hiccups. Keep your senses heightened as things turn on, run through self tests, and operate. Odd noises, burning smells, or vibrations can be an easy way to spot deeper issues.
Check the condition of the light source, whether it be lamps, LED’s, lasers, or anything else. Are they intact, or do they need replacement? Is their output consistent with each other? Is there a noticeable decline in output after the unit reaches full operating temperature? Does the color rendering seem correct?
Beam and Focus
Different fixture types will have different intended beam and focus behaviors. If you’re testing a wash unit, do you have nice soft and symmetrical edges? Is there an extreme hot spot that shouldn’t be there? For spot or profile fixtures, do they produce a nice crisp edge? Run the beam through its full focal plane to check for any oddities.
If your stage lighting equipment offers color mixing options, test them all, both as individual colors and as mixed. Ensure that any color wheel or mixing mechanisms work smoothly and all colors are displayed accurately. With LED’s in particular, does adding in a second or third color affect the output of the previous, or do they all dim from 0-100% as expected without any power fluctuation?
For moving lights, examine the pan and tilt functions. Do they move smoothly and without any strange noises? Ensure that the equipment can move as intended without any obstructions, both internal and external. Also check the locking mechanisms to ensure that they latch correctly.
For fixtures, consoles, and data transmitters alike, check ALL I/O ports to ensure that they are passing data as intended. Can your fixtures receive DMX? Can they also pass DMX through to the next unit without issues? For network connections, do they send and receive data correctly? Testing all input and output functions of the device will prevent any surprises when on a show site once you’re in a real-world environment.
Listen to the cooling fans carefully. Are they functioning correctly? Is anything blocking their path? Overheating can be detrimental to any gear, so ensure that the cooling system is in excellent working condition.
Mounting and Rigging
If the equipment is designed for hanging or mounting, inspect the rigging and mounting points. Ensure that they are sturdy and capable of safely supporting the weight of the lights. Don’t forget to add safety cables!
Wiring and Connections
Examine all cables and connectors for wear and tear. Replace any damaged cables to prevent electrical issues during your performances. A reliable electrical connection is vital for a flawless show and the safety of operators.
Double-check any safety features such as cables, emergency stop buttons, and thermal protection. These features can prevent accidents and protect your investment.
Tips for Buying Used Stage Lighting
Buying used stage lighting equipment can be thrilling, especially when you know you’re getting a fantastic deal. Negotiating effectively can significantly affect the price you pay and the value you receive. Here are some expert tips to master the art of negotiation:
- Research Market Prices: Know the going rates for used stage lighting to establish a reasonable negotiation range.
- Set and Stick to Your Budget: Determine your budget beforehand and avoid overspending during negotiations.
- Highlight Equipment Flaws: Point out any flaws or issues in the equipment to negotiate a lower price.
- Maintain Courtesy: Be polite, respectful, and professional to build a positive rapport with the seller.
- Request Documentation: For added confidence, ask for maintenance records, service history, or warranties.
- Don’t Fear Haggling: Don’t hesitate to negotiate or counteroffer if the initial price doesn’t suit you.
- Consider Bundle Deals: If buying multiple items, bundle them together for potential discounts.
- Be Patient: Negotiations can take time; waiting for the right deal often pays off.
- Be Prepared to Walk Away: Don’t be afraid to explore other options if the terms don’t meet your needs.
- Get a Written Agreement: Ensure all details, including price, accessories, warranties, and terms, are in writing.
Now that you’ve navigated the used stage lighting checklist and ensured that your used stage lighting from GearSource is ready to shine on your stage, follow these 12 steps to safeguard your investment and set the stage for unforgettable performances. Go ahead, let your creativity flow, and illuminate the world with your talent, all thanks to your inspected and reliable used stage lighting. It’s showtime!